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Antiracist Reading

Books on race and antiracism, including fiction and non-fiction titles for readers of all ages.


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Indigenous Relations

- by Bob Joseph

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A timely sequel to the bestselling 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act - and an invaluable guide for anyone seeking to work more effectively with Indigenous Peoples.

We are all treaty people. But what are the everyday impacts of treaties, and how can we effectively work toward reconciliation if we're worried our words and actions will unintentionally cause harm?

Hereditary chief and leading Indigenous relations trainer Bob Joseph is your guide to respecting cultural differences and improving your personal relationships and business interactions with Indigenous Peoples. Practical and inclusive, Indigenous Relations interprets the difference between hereditary and elected leadership, and why it matters; explains the intricacies of Aboriginal Rights and Title, and the treaty process; and demonstrates the lasting impact of the Indian Act, including the barriers that Indigenous communities face and the truth behind common myths and stereotypes perpetuated since Confederation.

Indigenous Relations equips you with the necessary knowledge to respectfully avoid missteps in your work and daily life, and offers an eight-part process to help business and government work more effectively with Indigenous Peoples - benefitting workplace culture as well as the bottom line. Indigenous Relations is an invaluable tool for anyone who wants to improve their cultural competency and undo the legacy of the Indian Act.

A Mind Spread Out on the Ground

- by Alicia Elliott

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#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER

SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2019 HILARY WESTON WRITERS' TRUST PRIZE FOR NONFICTION

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF 2019 BY THE GLOBE AND MAIL o CBC o CHATELAINE o QUILL & QUIRE o THE HILL TIMES o POP MATTERS

A bold and profound meditation on trauma, legacy, oppression and racism in North America from award-winning Haudenosaunee writer Alicia Elliott.


In an urgent and visceral work that asks essential questions about the treatment of Native people in North America while drawing on intimate details of her own life and experience with intergenerational trauma, Alicia Elliott offers indispensable insight into the ongoing legacy of colonialism. She engages with such wide-ranging topics as race, parenthood, love, mental illness, poverty, sexual assault, gentrifcation, writing and representation, and in the process makes connections both large and small between the past and present, the personal and political--from overcoming a years-long battle with head lice to the way Native writers are treated within the Canadian literary industry; her unplanned teenage pregnancy to the history of dark matter and how it relates to racism in the court system; her childhood diet of Kraft Dinner to how systemic oppression is directly linked to health problems in Native communities. 

With deep consideration and searing prose, Elliott provides a candid look at our past, an illuminating portrait of our present and a powerful tool for a better future.

Solitary

- by Albert Woodfox

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FINALIST FOR THE PULITZER PRIZE IN GENERAL NONFICTION
FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD IN NONFICTION
Named One of Barack Obama's Favorite Books of 2019
Named the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Book of the Year
Named a Best Book of the Year by the New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR, Publishers WeeklyBookBrowse, and Literary Hub
Winner of the BookBrowse Award for Best Debut of 2019
New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice


Solitary is the unforgettable life story of a man who served more than four decades in solitary confinement?in a 6-foot by 9-foot cell, 23 hours a day, in notorious Angola prison in Louisiana?all for a crime he did not commit. That Albert Woodfox survived was, in itself, a feat of extraordinary endurance against the violence and deprivation he faced daily. That he was able to emerge whole from his odyssey within America's prison and judicial systems is a triumph of the human spirit, and makes his book a clarion call to reform the inhumanity of solitary confinement in the U.S. and around the world.

Arrested often as a teenager in New Orleans, inspired behind bars in his early twenties to join the Black Panther Party because of its social commitment and code of living, Albert was serving a 50-year sentence in Angola for armed robbery when on April 17, 1972, a white guard was killed. Albert and another member of the Panthers were accused of the crime and immediately put in solitary confinement by the warden. Without a shred of actual evidence against them, their trial was a sham of justice that gave them life sentences in solitary. Decades passed before Albert gained a lawyer of consequence; even so, sixteen more years and multiple appeals were needed before he was finally released in February 2016.

Remarkably self-aware that anger or bitterness would have destroyed him in solitary confinement, sustained by the shared solidarity of two fellow Panthers, Albert turned his anger into activism and resistance. The Angola 3, as they became known, resolved never to be broken by the grinding inhumanity and corruption that effectively held them for decades as political prisoners. He survived to give us Solitary, a chronicle of rare power and humanity that proves the better spirits of our nature can thrive against any odds.

The Inconvenient Indian

- by Thomas King

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NATIONAL BESTSELLER

Rich with dark and light, pain and magic, The Inconvenient Indian distills the insights gleaned from Thomas King's critical and personal meditation on what it means to be "Indian" in North America, weaving the curiously circular tale of the relationship between non-Natives and Natives in the centuries since the two first encountered each other. In the process, King refashions old stories about historical events and figures, takes a sideways look at film and pop culture, relates his own complex experiences with activism, and articulates a deep and revolutionary understanding of the cumulative effects of ever-shifting laws and treaties on Native peoples and lands.
     This is a book both timeless and timely, burnished with anger but tempered by wit, and ultimately a hard-won offering of hope--a sometimes inconvenient but nonetheless indispensable account for all of us, Indian and non-Indian alike, seeking to understand how we might tell a new story for the future.

Americanah

- by Chimamanda Adichie

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A searing new novel, at once sweeping and intimate, by the award-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun: a story of love and race centred around a man and woman from Nigeria who seemed destined to be together--until the choices they are forced to make tear them apart. Ifemelu--beautiful, self-assured--left Nigeria 15 years ago, and now studies in Princeton as a Graduate Fellow. Obinze--handsome and kind-hearted--was Ifemelu's teenage love; he'd hoped to join her in America, but post 9/11 America wouldn't let him in. Years later, when they reunite in Nigeria, neither is the same person who left home. Obinze is the kind of successful "Big Man" he'd scorned in his youth, and Ifemelu has become an "Americanah"--a different version of her former self, one with a new accent and attitude. As they revisit their shared passion--for their homeland and for each other--they must face the largest challenges of their lives.

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker

- by Damon Young

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A Finalist for the NAACP Image Award

A Finalist for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Nonfiction
A Finalist for the Thurber Prize for American Humor

Longlisted for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay An NPR Best Book of the Year A Washington Independent Review of Books Favorite of the Year

From the cofounder of VerySmartBrothas.com, and one of the most read writers on race and culture at work today, a provocative and humorous memoir-in-essays that explores the absurdities and anxieties of being Black in America

For Damon Young, existing while Black is an extreme sport. The act of possessing black skin while searching for space to breathe in America is enough to induce a ceaseless state of angst where questions such as "How should I react here, as a professional black person?" and "Will this white person's potato salad kill me?" are forever relevant.

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker chronicles Young's efforts to survive while battling and making sense of the various neuroses his country has given him.

It's a condition that's sometimes stretched to absurd limits: creating the farce where, as a teen, he wished for a white person to call him a racial slur just so he could fight him and have a great story about it; provoking the angst that made him question if  "being straight" was something he could practice and get better at, like a crossover dribble; and generating the surreal experience of watching his Pittsburgh neighborhood getrify from predominantly Black to "Portlandia . . . but with Pierogies."  

And, at its most devastating, it provides him reason to believe that his mother would be alive today if she were white.

From one of our most respected cultural observers, What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker is a hilarious and honest debut that is both a celebration of the idiosyncrasies and distinctions of Blackness and a critique of white supremacy and how we define masculinity.

The Tradition

- by Jericho Brown

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WINNER OF THE 2020 PULITZER PRIZE FOR POETRYFinalist for the 2019 National Book Award

"100 Notable Books of the Year,"The New York Times Book Review

One Book, One Philadelphia Citywide Reading Program Selection, 2021

"By some literary magic--no, it's precision, and honesty--Brown manages to bestow upon even the most public of subjects the most intimate and personal stakes."--Craig Morgan Teicher, "'I Reject Walls':A 2019 Poetry Preview" for NPR

 "A relentless dismantling of identity, a difficult jewel of a poem."--Rita Dove, in her introduction to Jericho Brown's "Dark" (featured in theNew York Times Magazine in January 2019)

"Winner of a Whiting Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship, Brown's hard-won lyricism finds fire (and idyll) in the intersection of politics and love for queer Black men."--O, The Oprah Magazine

Named aLit Hub "Most Anticipated Book of 2019"

One ofBuzzfeed's "66 Books Coming in 2019 You'll Want to Keep Your Eyes On"

The Rumpuspoetry pick for "What to Read When 2019 is Just Around the Corner"

One ofBookRiot's "50 Must-Read Poetry Collections of 2019"

Jericho Brown's daring new bookThe Tradition details the normalization of evil and its history at the intersection of the past and the personal. Brown's poetic concerns are both broad and intimate, and at their very core a distillation of the incredibly human: What is safety? Who is this nation? Where does freedom truly lie? Brown makes mythical pastorals to question the terrors to which we've become accustomed, and to celebrate how we survive. Poems of fatherhood, legacy, blackness, queerness, worship, and trauma are propelled into stunning clarity by Brown's mastery, and his invention of the duplex--a combination of the sonnet, the ghazal, and the blues--is testament to his formal skill.The Tradition is a cutting and necessary collection, relentless in its quest for survival while reveling in a celebration of contradiction.

The Vanishing Half

- by Brit Bennett

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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

ONE OF BARACK OBAMA'S FAVORITE BOOKS OF THE YEAR

NAMED A BEST BOOK OF 2020 BY THE NEW YORK TIMES * THE WASHINGTON POST * NPR * PEOPLE * TIME MAGAZINE* VANITY FAIR * GLAMOUR 


2021 WOMEN'S PRIZE FINALIST


"Bennett's tone and style recalls James Baldwin and Jacqueline Woodson, but it's especially reminiscent of Toni Morrison's 1970 debut novel, The Bluest Eye." --Kiley Reid, Wall Street Journal 

"A story of absolute, universal timelessness ...For any era, it's an accomplished, affecting novel. For this moment, it's piercing, subtly wending its way toward questions about who we are and who we want to be...." - Entertainment Weekly



From The New York Times-bestselling author of The Mothers, a stunning new novel about twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white.The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it's not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it's everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters' storylines intersect?

Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person's decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

As with her New York Times-bestselling debut The Mothers, Brit Bennett offers an engrossing page-turner about family and relationships that is immersive and provocative, compassionate and wise.

Frying Plantain

- by Zalika Reid-benta

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Set in the neighbourhood of "Little Jamaica," Frying Plantain follows a girl from elementary school to high school graduation as she navigates the tensions between mothers and daughters, second-generation immigrants experiencing first-generation cultural expectations, and Black identity in a predominantly white society.

Kara Davis is a girl caught in the middle -- of her North American identity and her desire to be a "true" Jamaican, of her mother and grandmother's rages and life lessons, of having to avoid being thought of as too "faas" or too "quiet" or too "bold" or too "soft." In these twelve interconnected stories, we see Kara on a visit to Jamaica, startled by the sight of a severed pig's head in her great-aunt's freezer; in junior high, the victim of a devastating prank by her closest friends; and as a teenager in and out of her grandmother's house, trying to cope with ongoing battles of unyielding authority.

A rich and unforgettable portrait of growing up between worlds, Frying Plantain shows how, in one charged moment, friendship and love can turn to enmity and hate, well-meaning protection can become control, and teasing play can turn to something much darker.

Any Known Blood

- by Lawrence Hill

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Langston Cane V is 38, divorced and working as a government speechwriter, until he's fired for sabotaging the minister's speech. It seems the perfect time for Langston, the eldest son of a white mother and prominent black father, to embark on a quest to discover his family's past -- and his own sense of self. Any Known Blood follows five generations of an African-Canadian-American family in a compelling story that slips effortlessly from the slave trade of 19th-century Virginia to the modern, predominantly white suburbs of Oakville, Ontario -- once a final stop on the Underground Railroad. Elegant and sensuous, wry and witty, it is an engrossing tale about one man's attempt to find himself through unearthing and giving voice to those who came before him.

Book Of Negroes

- by Lawrence Hill

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Abducted as an 11-year-old child from her village in West Africa and forced to walk for months to the sea in a coffle--a string of slaves-- Aminata Diallo is sent to live as a slave in South Carolina. But years later, she forges her way to freedom, serving the British in the Revolutionary War and registering her name in the historic "Book of Negroes." This book, an actual document, provides a short but immensely revealing record of freed Loyalist slaves who requested permission to leave the US for resettlement in Nova Scotia, only to find that the haven they sought was steeped in an oppression all of its own.

Aminata's eventual return to Sierra Leone--passing ships carrying thousands of slaves bound for America--is an engrossing account of an obscure but important chapter in history that saw 1,200 former slaves embark on a harrowing back-to-Africa odyssey. Lawrence Hill is a master at transforming the neglected corners of history into brilliant imaginings, as engaging and revealing as only the best historical fiction can be. A sweeping story that transports the reader from a tribal African village to a plantation in the southern United States, from the teeming Halifax docks to the manor houses of London, The Book of Negroes introduces one of the strongest female characters in recent Canadian fiction, one who cuts a swath through a world hostile to her colour and her sex.

Black Writers Matter

- by Whitney-ed. French

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Winner of the 2020 Saskatchewan Publishing Award

"Black Writers? African, Bluesy, Classical, Disrespectful, Erudite, Fiery, Groovy, Haunting, Inspiring, Jazzy, Knowing, Liberating, Militant, Nervy, Optimistic, Pugnacious, Quixotic, Rambunctious, Seductive, Truculent, Urgent, Vivacious, Wicked, X-ray sharp, Yearning, Zesty. And so, they matter!" --George Elliott Clarke An anthology of African-Canadian writing, Black Writers Matter offers a cross-section of established writers and newcomers to the literary world who tackle contemporary and pressing issues with beautiful, sometimes raw, prose. As editor Whitney French says in her introduction, Black Writers Matter "injects new meaning into the word diversity [and] harbours a sacredness and an everydayness that offers Black people dignity." An "invitation to read, share, and tell stories of Black narratives that are close to the bone," this collection feels particular to the Black Canadian experience. "Reading these stories gave me both joy and grief." --Afua Cooper "Collected in these pages are voices that need to be urgently heard, engaged and reckoned with. Black life, Black Canadian life, Black Canadian diasporic life in full colour and full of desire is on offer in Black Writers Matter." --Rinaldo Walcott, professor at University of Toronto and author of Queer Returns: Essays on Multiculturalism, Diaspora and Black Studies "Black Writers Matter is an extraordinary achievement, a bold and loving gathering of Black writing in its sublimity; its stylistic and thematic complexity; its regional, cultural, generational, and experiential differences; its fiercely constellated energy. Whitney French and the talented contributors to this book offer us vital new writings within a two-hundred-year legacy of yearning and truth-telling. Please read this book." --David Chariandy, author of Soucouyant and Brother "This book is as pretty as a present...and just as beautiful on the inside. Marvellous and life-changing." --Donna Bailey Nurse, author of What's a Black Critic To Do? and editor of Revival: An Anthology of Black Canadian Writing

Until We Are Free

- by Rodney Diverlus

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The killing of Trayvon Martin in 2012 by a white assailant inspired the Black Lives Matter movement, which quickly spread outside the borders of the United States. The movement's message found fertile ground in Canada, where Black activists speak of generations of injustice and continue the work of the Black liberators who have come before them.
 
Until We Are Free contains some of the very best writing on the hottest issues facing the Black community in Canada. It describes the latest developments in Canadian Black activism, organizing efforts through the use of social media, Black-Indigenous alliances, and more.

"Until We Are Free busts myths of Canadian politeness and niceness, myths that prevent Canadians from properly fulfilling its dream of multiculturalism and from challenging systemic racism, including the everyday assaults on black and brown bodies. This book needs to be read and put into practice by everyone." --Vershawn Young, author of Your Average Nigga: Performing Race, Literacy, and Masculinity and co-author of Other People's English: Code Meshing, Code Switching, and African American Literacy

Contributors: 
Silvia Argentina Arauz - Toronto, ON 
Leanne Betasamosake Simpson - Toronto, ON 
Patrisse Cullors - Los Angeles, CA
Giselle Dias - Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, ON
OmiSoore Dryden - Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS
Paige Galette - Whitehorse, YK
Dana Inkster - University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, AB 
Sarah Jama - Hamilton, ON
El Jones - Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, NS
Anique Jordan - Toronto, ON
Dr. Naila Keleta Mae - University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON
Janaya Khan - Los Angeles, CA
Gilary Massa - York University, Toronto, ON
Robyn Maynard - University of Toronto, Toronto, ON
QueenTite Opaleke - Toronto, ON
Randolph Riley - Halifax, NS
Camille Turner - York University, Toronto, ON
Ravyn Wngz - Toronto, ON
 

Policing Black Lives

- by Robyn Maynard

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Delving behind Canada's veneer of multiculturalism and tolerance, Policing Black Lives traces the violent realities of anti-blackness from the slave ships to prisons, classrooms and beyond. Robyn Maynard provides readers with the first comprehensive account of nearly four hundred years of state-sanctioned surveillance, criminalization and punishment of Black lives in Canada.
While highlighting the ubiquity of Black resistance, Policing Black Lives traces the still-living legacy of slavery across multiple institutions, shedding light on the state's role in perpetuating contemporary Black poverty and unemployment, racial profiling, law enforcement violence, incarceration, immigration detention, deportation, exploitative migrant labour practices, disproportionate child removal and low graduation rates.
Emerging from a critical race feminist framework that insists that all Black lives matter, Maynard's intersectional approach to anti-Black racism addresses the unique and understudied impacts of state violence as it is experienced by Black women, Black people with disabilities, as well as queer, trans, and undocumented Black communities.
A call-to-action, Policing Black Lives urges readers to work toward dismantling structures of racial domination and re-imagining a more just society.

Magnetic Equator

- by Kaie Kellough

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An original, inventive--and visually stunning--exploration of place, identity, language, and experience from the acclaimed poet, novelist, and sound performer.

GRIFFIN POETRY PRIZE WINNER

QWF A.M. KLEIN PRIZE FOR POETRY FINALIST


The poems in Kaie Kellough's third collection drift between South and North America. They seek their ancestry in Georgetown, Guyana, in the Amazon Rainforest, and in the Atlantic Ocean. They haunt the Canadian Prairie. They recall the 1980s in the suburbs of Calgary, and they reflect on the snowed-in, bricked-in boroughs of post-referendum Montréal. They puzzle their language together from the natural world and from the works of Caribbean and Canadian writers. They reassemble passages about seed catalogues, about origins, about finding a way in the world, about black ships sailing across to land. They struggle to explain a state of being hemisphered, of being present here while carrying a heartbeat from elsewhere, and they map the distances travelled.

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